MUSIC | Murs plays Minneapolis, “the new hip-hop Mecca”


For a guy from L.A., Murs sure loves him some Minneapolis. Like, rap-about-Pizza-Luce-for-a-minute loves it, and I’ll be the first to say the feeling is mutual.

Backed by DJ Foundation, Murs, a.k.a. Nick Carter (yep, like the Backstreet Boy), provided fans at the Fine Line Music Cafe who might have previously only known him from his work in Felt, his side project featuring Atmosphere’s Slug, with a clearer picture of his solo mission: to charm the pants off of us. Oh, and make us dance.

The between-song chatter was frequent and sincere. Coming off an extensive tour of Canada with openers Tabi Bonney (who hilariously tweeted, “Minneapolis knows how to party!! It’s nothing but a gang of girls in the street with short skirts in dumb cold weather!”) and Whole Wheat Bread (the group Murs collaborates with in a punk fusion band called the Invincibles), Murs joked about having a comparably warm reception in Minnesota and called Minneapolis “the new hip-hop Mecca.” Indeed, some of our own prominent hip-hop stars, including Brother Ali, were in attendance.

The setlist featured a nice mix from all albums, including several songs from Murs 3:16: The 9th Edition, his 2004 collaboration with producer 9th Wonder. It’s probably not his most popular release, but definitely one of his strongest. 9th’s signature soulful samples and bass heavy beats encouraged lots of Dinkytown-style dancing and major audience participation during the call-and-response portions of songs. The format was loose and comfortable (at one point Murs totally stopped rapping mid-song and admitted “this song is just my attempt at ‘Modern Man’s Hustle'”) and fostered the inclusive nature of his hyper-conscious lyrical style. For example, when there were references to doing certain things “L.A. style,” Murs made sure that we all knew exactly what that meant—not in a way that was condescending, just in a way that made us all feel sure we were in on the joke.

The closing numbers were a bubbly cover of Rob Base’s “It Takes Two” and a rousing, rock-inspired version of “Walk Like an Egyptian” (topical!) assisted by Whole Wheat Bread. Murs thanked us for coming out and promised to be back again with his soon to be released album Varsity Blues 2. Clearly he, and anyone else he brings with him, will be welcomed back with open arms.